Why I love serving at Northstar: Erin Petersen

Erin Petersen Blog

This entry is part 1 of 7 in the series Why I Love Serving at Northstar

Rose-Colored glasses

It was a Thursday afternoon, and I was in Jeff’s office with Neal and Jeff. It was to discuss coming on board to the Northstar staff team. There I sat, with no ministry experience, discussing coming on as interim College Minister. I was very confident of who Jesus was in my life but very unsure of what vocational ministry entailed. So, there I was being asked questions about my walk with Jesus and my vision for college ministry when Neal warned me about “rose-colored glasses.”

There are people who think that being in ministry is pleasant and easy work. They assume it means a lot of time off, work on Sundays only, and lots and lots of coffee shop talks. Yes, there are definitely good times, but rarely do people talk about the tough side of ministry. You don’t really leave work.

When I worked in a gym I was with my client for one hour of the day, and there was no real accountability on my part other than I needed to practice what I preached and stay in good physical shape. Ocassionally, I would get a text or email wanting some questions answered, but it was always an easy answer: Move more, eat less.

Now, in ministry that’s where things get complicated. You are dealing with the whole person and more specifically their spiritual health. You may have students calling you in the middle of the night in crisis right after your own child has been up with nightmares. You may have given counsel to someone time and time again about the same issue, and they still don’t listen and are still struggling and complaining about the same thing. Sometimes people can be tough. Not exactly rosey.

When one thinks about “rose-colored glasses” one usually thinks of it as an outward expression – the way one would look at the world around them. Well, it also works inwardly, with pride. I tend to think of myself more highly than I ought. Northstar family has helped me grow in that area. Whether it’s a gentle confrontation or just a staff book that we are reading, I am more aware than ever that I am a sinner who needed and NEEDS a Savior.

If I can think of one thing that serving on the staff at Northstar has done for me it has been to turn those rose-colored glasses into crystal-clear 20/20 vision-maker glasses. I can now see that I am a sinner who needed and needs a Savior more than ever.  In my two and a half years at Northstar I have grown more than the rest of my 35 years here on earth. I am seeing new things.

What I am seeing and where I am growing

  1. Desire to grow. Reading the Bible and other grounded books. As a staff we have required readings that we go over in staff meetings on a weekly basis. We are also kept accountable and expected to have a daily quiet time with Jesus. Two of my favorite books that we have read on staff is Rejoicing in Christ by Michael Reeves and the Bible.
  2. Assuming the Best. I’ve always been a critical person. I like to think of it as discernment, but I will be real and say I can be judgmental.  When I came on staff, and that was one of the principals that was expected, I initially struggled, but I was more aware of my outlook, and it’s amazing what assuming the best about someone or a situation can actually do for YOU and your thought life.
  3. Less can be more. Words. I am talking about not talking as much. I used to, and still do, like to voice my opinion. I have grown in that area simply because I have been dealing with my sin of pride. Whether it’s been in my quiet time, in staff meeting or a heart to heart conversations on staff, I have learned that it’s okay to not voice my opinion simply to have a voice. I am a strong woman, and sometimes it takes an even stronger woman (with discernment) to stay quiet when she should and speak when appropriate.

I am so grateful that God led me to begin serving at Northstar. I am growing and have learned so much. Ministry IS hard. There are days I consider returning to being a personal trainer. It’s on those days that I dig deep, reevaluate my expectations, remember that my strength comes from the Lord and not my personal resources, and take off those rose-colored glasses. When I do, I am able to refocus with clarity upon Jesus and love the people of Northstar as I should.

“The more I know myself to be a true child of God, and the more I see of Christ, the deader I find myself to sin. It still allures me, but not as it did. I find old sinful desires dying and new holy ones springing up: I find myself yearning to be free of the sins I once held so dearly. I have a new heart, after all – the heart of a child of God- and it feels and wants differently. Like Christ. IN fact, in all I am a new creation: I have new ears that hear differently, a new brain that thinks differently, new hands that act differently and a new tongue that speaks differently [and new eyes that no longer look through rose-colored glasses, but now see clearly].”  Michael Reeves Rejoicing in Christ [added by me]

Want to Read More in this Series?Why I Love Serving at Northstar: Megan Evans >>